Pronounced “Me-Do”, which means “I measure” in Spanish, Mido turns 102 this year. With origins as a Swatch Group brand, this centenary Swiss watchmaker gained recognition in the vintage watch scene with many distinguished pieces in its early days. Although Mido may not be the first watchmaker one thinks of when looking for Swiss timepieces, this brand has recently made a comeback with exquisite remakes of remarkable heritage collectables that are testament to its forte in watchmaking.
While it may not be surprising that many enthusiasts did not recognise Mido’s finesse in watchmaking, it is worthy to note that many of Mido’s vintage releases (before and during the 60s) were widely esteemed by watch collectors even till today and some of these pieces have even entered major auction houses (check out the 1920s Bugatti’s radiator watch). At this point, you may be wondering why Mido’s current line-ups have not been as popular as those released in the past. Well, here are some reasons:
Watch brands, particularly the very old and very Swiss watch brands, are often accused of not being on the pulse of what their consumers want.Zach Kazan, Wornandwound 2020
As such, I felt that Mido has not been living up to its excellent reputation gained during its heydays. Furthermore, its brand communication has not been effective in catering to consumer preferences. Things only started to improve when Mido decided to revisit several alluring vintage-styled pieces just recently. Now, Mido is on a roll with a much-anticipated revival of retro-dive watches ranging from the “Rainbow Diver” to the sports-chic “Dato-Date” Commanders. At long last, it seems that the watch industry has gradually shown significant interest in Mido’s expertise. One new favourite of mine is the recently launched Mido Multifort Patrimony Blue that showcases the great craftsmanship of the brand.
The collection which defined Mido as one of the top releases of the 20th century is the Multifort. Hence, delving into this brand’s ethos, Mido flaunts its innovative infusion of heritage-inspired assets and continues to astound with the incorporation of illustrious historical designs and executions that make its current collections stand out among their contemporaries.
First Proper Collection – The Multifort
Before scrutinising the new Patrimony series, I shall attempt to trace the history of Mido’s success. In October 1929, also known as the period of the Great Depression, the entire global economy was badly hit and Mido was no exception. Hence, Mido decided to decentralise its three sites in Biel, Gunsberg and Solothurn as well as to transfer its main headquarters to Biel. As a result, every department including production and sales were under the same roof in the canton of Bern, Switzerland.
The Great Depression marked the lowest point in Mido’s history as the economic recession hit Mido hard, forcing it to produce a massive amount of watches to keep itself afloat in the sea of failing businesses.
In its early days ever since Georges Scharen and Hugo Jubert founded the company in 1918, Mido was known for its diversified range of timepieces and clocks. During the post 1920s, Mido crafted impressive fashionable models that were deemed to be greatly prestigious for its clientele at that time. However, the financial crisis forced the watchmaker to streamline its collections and shift away from fanciful novelties to more practical pieces. It is also during this period when Mido realised the winning combination of excellent craftsmanship and sporty design popular among most consumers. This epiphany led to the birth of the Multifort line in 1934.
The Era of Multifort
The Multifort collection has distinct characteristics that deem it quintessential in the watch industry for many decades to come:
- Impervious to water, dust and rust
- Automatic-winding (1935)
These key assets are unprecedented during the early 30s and have now evolved into the current standard of modern timepieces. Mido gained an excellent reputation after its invention of the first-ever water-resistant system using a treated natural cork material gasket that seals the crown of the watch. Coined “Aquadura”, this ingenious solution prevents water or any form of tiny particles from penetrating the watch through the crown by sealing it off around the stem completely.
From the 1930s to the 1960s, the Multifort line released durable and practical watches with great reliability that customers have confidence in. Each decade marks another milestone for Mido and showcases its prowess in watchmaking. To illustrate this, let’s take a look at the models released during this period. We see the birth of the coveted Multichrono (1937), the art-deco Radiotime (1939) and the World War 2 era Super-Automatics that seems to be popular among GIs, and finally, not forgetting the Powerwind released in 1954. It is worthy to note that all these robust pieces were powered by a reputable caliber widely known for its easy maintenance and reliability.
Restoring The Legacy
This 30-year period can be recognised as the golden “Multifort” era of Mido in which the brand proved itself to be true innovators of unique purpose-oriented watches. Since then, this watchmaker has ventured in new directions and in the 1980s, right after the Ocean Stars era, Mido experimented with new designs and even included architectural elements in its timepieces launched in 2003. After its golden era, Mido started to focus more on dressier models that seem to sport run-of-the-mill designs akin to models from its sister brands like Tissot’s Classic and Hamilton’s American Classic line-up.
Even though there is nothing wrong with Mido’s capitalisation on evergreen designs, this move resulted in a lack of distinctiveness to set Mido’s timepieces apart in the saturated watch industry. Consequently, Mido appeared to lose its charm over the past 30 plus years Mido, causing watch savants like us to lose interest, until now…
In recent times, Mido decided to go back into their archives to mine for valuable design gems and took the industry by surprise with tasteful throwback elements infused into trendy models like the Multifort Patrimony trios. These three vintage-inspired watches present Mido’s superb craftwork which is what makes it the “watchmaker’s watch brand”. The Patrimony collection stages a horological revival in its fine execution.
There is much to be said about these three Patrimonies but I would like to focus on the blue dial edition as its design is the most outstanding while the anthracite and gold-tone variants are more sober and bear more vintage charm due to their monochromatic dials and dressy nature.
Despite their aesthetic differences, the models in the Patrimony line share identical mechanics and finishing:
- 40mm in diameter, 47mm lug to lug, 11.95mm thick.
- Finished with both satin and mirror-polish on a 316L stainless steel case with PVD rose gold.
- Sunburst fume dial (smoky-effect).
- Pulsometric scale on periphery and sector layout.
- Runs on the Caliber 80 (based on ETA C07.621), 25 jewels, 21600 bph, power reserve of 80 hours.
The Patrimony bears a typical mid 20th century look which reflects Mido’s ambitious spirit. Its design flaunts simplicity that allows for great legibility and includes quirky vintage details like the sector dial and pulsometer scale that graces this collection with the authentic vintage nostalgia of the Multifort series released from the 30s to the 50s.
Old-School Fancy Case
The Patrimony Blue is not a direct remake of any specific watches of a specific period but draws inspiration from timepieces in different seasons of the Multifort line. What makes this watch stand out is, undoubtedly, its case design.
Its watch case might be perceived to be yet another round dressy case commonly found on most dress watches of that era. However, the unique twisted lugs found on all four case corners brands the watch a Mido timepiece. Known as “scalloped” lugs, the case is derived from the brand’s 1930s Multifort Datometer and the 40s Luxe Super Automatic and was used in Multifort collections until the late 60s. These case lugs made a comeback in recent times on Mido’s 100th Anniversary gold-toned Datometer Limited Edition in 2018.
This case design is popular even till date. One key distinction of Mido’s incorporation of twisted lugs is that they do not look stubby while still sporting a dressy look with heavy bevel chamfering that graces each piece with sophistication and glamour. These features create a “twisting” illusion as the right top surface of each lug produces a twisting effect, curling inwards and towards the direction of the strap. Fortunately, the narrow lugs are kept short without being cloddish, allowing the 40mm case to achieve a perfect balance on the wrist. As a result, the case boasts an eccentric look while still maintaining elegance and poise.
Due to its short lugs and slender mid-case section measuring only 3mm, the Patrimony Blue is adequate in size. Additionally, the scalloped lug lines on the mid-case exudes a satisfyingly proportionate and slim appeal.
Moreover, the case band features refined vertical satin-finished that graces the dress watch with a purposeful appeal that sets it apart from the usual full polish. This subtle finishing is usually found on early tool watches like Hamilton’s Khaki field watches as well as Mido’s own 30s Multifort Datometer and 40s Multifort military models.
Exemplifying its robust built, the placement of both screw-down crown and case back allows for enhanced water resistance which is one of the distinct characteristics of the Multifort selection.
This case is indeed a work of art. The full polish finish and case execution bestows the watch with a luxurious expensive look that allows for excellent value for money, allowing its wearer to indulge in a verifiable Swiss-made case with Mido’s original 30s styling.
A Dose Of Fumé
Similar to its 1940s inspired case, the same authenticity is evident on its dial which incorporates nostalgic elements from Mido’s archive. Flanged by a thin full-polished bezel, this unique dial shows off different shades of blue
Gradient pattern, aka fumé or ombré, dials are back in watchmakers’ favour thanks to newly rediscovered techniquesTimothy Barker, 2020
Complementing its scalloped lugs case, the smoky sunburst dial is elaborately executed and flaunts a handsome design. This smoky sunburst blue dial, accentuated with a thin polished bezel, turned out exactly how Mido envisioned it to be.
The unique colour tone that gives this fumé dial its name shows off an alluring gradient tone from a faded black colour around the dial periphery to a teal blue shade towards the central pinion. This results in a smoky or burnt look at the edges of the dial that creates a sense of depth that constitutes the Patrimony’s appeal.
This fume effect is paired with an old-school sunburst finishing featuring intricate radial brushings across the dial, giving the Patrimony a glamorous shimmer.
This smoky dial isn’t something new. It was first seen on dress and sports watches in the early 50s and became popular once again in the early 21st century. The brands that started this trend include the high-end watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre and the renowned Japanese Seiko with their marvellous and notable ombré dials.
Today, the fumé dial has become a hit among many watch brands, from the Swiss trend-starter H-Moser and the Teutonic models from Glashutte Original to micro brands like anOrdain and Evant Watches.
Through careful experimentation with the smoky gradient blue dial, Mido managed to design an artistic antique dial for the Multifort Patrimony collection, yet another exceptional addition to the line-up crafted by this Swiss watchmaker.
Instruments For Doctors
Separated by concentric circles marking off each section that serves their own respective purpose, the fumé dial presents a nostalgic appeal while still maintaining impeccable precision and readability.
The Patrimony Blue draws inspiration from its 1940s Multi-CenterChrono featuring a pulse meter indicator, reminiscent of 19th century clocks and pocket watches with pulsation scales that aided physicians in their medical practices back then. Usually found on chronograph watches as early as in the 50s and 60s, the pulsometer scale on the rehaut of the dial allows the wearer to measure one’s pulse accurately.
For a non-chronograph like this Mido collection, all the wearer has to do is to start counting the number of heartbeats when the second hand reaches the zero position at 12 o’clock and continue counting up to 30 beats for the Patrimony, as instructed romantically by the text on its dial, “Pulsomètre (greduè pour 30 pulsations)”. After counting to 30 beats, take note of where the second hand is pointing at on the scale which indicates the correct number of heart beats per minute measured.
The placement of the Patrimony Blue’s pulsometer scale on the periphery of the dial, also identified as the darkest section of the dial, greatly enhances legibility. Hence, this handsome dial work is testament to Mido’s attention to detail.
Furthermore, Mido replaces the alpha-shaped hands found on most Multifort pieces with an old-school syringe-styled handset shaped like a barrel with a sharp needle tip that points out precisely to each marking. Thus, the intriguing handset on this timepiece fits the overall professional and clinical design seamlessly.
This handset harks back to the early 40s and complements sectored dials like that of the Patrimony flawlessly. Tuned to the appropriate scale with utmost accuracy, this handset combines nostalgic charisma with functionality in a single timepiece.
Mido adds its own personal touch with its signature hour markers on the Multifort timepieces which pays tribute to the golden days of this collection. Hence, the combination of Arabic numerals and baton hour markers exudes an attractive quirkiness that elevates the simple dial design of the Patrimony, gracing this dress watch with a handsome vintage charm.
Overall, the Patrimony guarantees excellent readability, breath-taking aesthetics and great reliability while not being overbuilt which resonate well with watch lovers from all walks of life.
An Evolution Of The Workhorse
Another highlight of this timepiece is its stellar Swiss movement which flaunts a solid built and structure.
This caliber is based on one of the best workhorse automatic in Swiss watchmaking which has been tweaked and enhanced for improved operation. Known as caliber C07.621 or Mido caliber 80, this movement doubled the power reserve of the ubiquitous ETA 2836 caliber from the typical 38-hour to an impressive 80-hour power reserve. The day-date variant ETA 2836 movement is mirrored from the all-rounder ETA2824 (date only) caliber released in 1982 which many Swiss brands have adopted for its timeless design and ease during servicing. (for more information, check out our in-depth article on ETA: The Rise of The Swiss Engines)
In 1971, Mido was a part of the General Watch Co. Ltd which had been under a Swiss manufacturer’s association known as ASUAG which was renamed the Swatch Group a decade later. This Swiss watchmaker, along with several other brands like Rado and Tissot, incorporated these reliable movements produced by the ETA SA in 1973. Hence, throughout the years, Mido has benefited from every upgrade that ETA has developed, even till today, with the newest movement known as the C07 caliber.
The highlights of the C07 caliber are as follows. This movement improves on energy conservation by dropping the operating frequency from 4Hz to 3Hz (28,800bph to 21,600bph). In addition, the reduction in the diameter of the barrel arbor’s core (a shaft that the mainspring rotates on) results in an increased mainspring length which in turn increases the power reserve.
The C07 caliber is classified into 3 levels:
- C07.1XX – consisting of a synthetic escapement.
- C07.6XX – consisting of a traditional alloy escapement.
- C07.8XX – the most modern among the three with a silicon balance-spring.
The Patrimony Blue runs on the ETA C07-621 caliber, a 25-jewel movement with a diameter of 25.60 mm (111⁄2’’’) and a height of 5.22mm. It is crafted with the good ol’ Nivaflex NM mainspring, Nivachoc shock-absorber and Elinchron II balance-spring that is regulated through its offset weighted brass screws (a free-sprung design). Finally, this movement is decorated with a slight matte finish on its plates that show off a sleek industrial look which draws parallels to the robust ETA movement. The purposeful aesthetic of this caliber is completed with a decorated oscillating rotor featuring Côtes de Genève stripes and the Mido logo.
The movement offers the best of both worlds with a winning combination of the conventional aesthetics of the Multifort Patrimony that give off an artistic mid-century appeal and sleek modern engineering.
Overall, the Mido Patrimony Blue exemplifies the ethos of this century-old Swiss brand that leverages on its glorious past with careful execution to display its watchmaking prowess. Hence, Mido’s timely infusion of revived heritage elements in its sporty Ocean Star Tribute series and, of course, the classy Mido Patrimony Blue is testament to its expertise and experience.
The Patrimony brings back the 30s vibe, unique to the brand, with its nostalgic scalloped case complementing a mid-century dial design and signature handset. This timepiece is also powered by the latest ETA movement, an exclusive caliber courtesy of the world’s number one industrialized Swiss movement manufacturer.
Indulge in the ageless design of the Patrimony’s heritage case and dial that showcase vintage elements like a beautiful gradient fumé dial. This watch design honours Mido’s history and captures the elegance of the mid-century perfectly.
Although the Mido’s 2009 Pulsometer Ref. M88184.108.40.206 was the first to bring back the charming pulsometer scale, the Patrimony collection presents the most captivating version of it. The Patrimony strives to set itself apart from the other modern interpretations within the current collection by incorporating elements specific to the different decades of the Multifort line, dating all the way back to the early 1930s.
With a diameter of 40mm and a lug-to-lug length of 47mm, the Patrimony fits well on most wrists. What’s more, its elegant case design caters to all preferences and is suitable for both men and women. To top it all off, this timepiece has a reasonable pricing of $890USD (as of October 2020) which allows for value for money.
The Multifort Patrimony collection is testament to Mido’s expert craftsmanship and attention to detail. The Patrimony Blue is well-executed with a vintage theme, a state-of-the-art Swiss mechanical movement and a dial that includes mid-century design elements that bestow a sense of functionality which, all in all, encapsulates the vision of the Multifort line.
Although it might be a couple of years before Mido gets full recognition for its exquisite pieces, this Swiss brand is making much progress with stunning timepieces like the Patrimony. With high-quality watchmaking coupled with reasonable pricing, watch savants from around the world are slowly taking notice of this impressive Swiss brand. For now, let’s kick back and look forward to perhaps a remastered version of the Multi-Centerchrono or the next 20s art-deco Bugatti’s radiator-designed watch. Mido, surprise us!